I chose the Pacific Northwest because of its beauty and recreation. I joined the Mount Baker Club to hike, bike, kayak and snowshoe with friends and the Nooksack Nordic Ski Club to cross-country ski and snowshoe. Being so active I've gained lots of friends. However, whenever you are involved in a strenuous outdoor activity there are many things to consider:
For any activity, take the right equipment for the outing.
Dress for the weather and never stay home just because it is raining. Otherwise, you'll be home reading books.
Plan your outing, know exactly where you are going, and if available, take a map.
Always check the weather reports, trail/road conditions.
Always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
Maintain your energy supply by eating high-calorie food frequently.
Avoid wearing cotton next to your skin; when cotton becomes wet, it draws heat away from your body. Dress in layers, keep dry and wear clothes that can dry quickly.
Always have the 10 essentials with you: map, compass, sunglasses and sunscreen, extra food, extra water, extra dry clothing, headlamp/flashlight, first aid kit, fire starter (matches, chemical heat tabs, canned heat or magnesium stick) and a knife and a shelter (optional).
Respect nature and don't litter.
Always do any activity with at least two others. If one needs help, one can stay with that person while another goes for help.
In any activity if you are slower or stop on trails, move to the right and out of the way of others. When passing, sound out a pleasant warning.
Always follow trail signs and obey the rules of the trail/road to be safe. Always travel on the right side of the trail.
When snowshoeing, please avoid groomed trails whenever possible. Never walk on groomed cross-country tracks or between sets of tracks. Stay on the shoulder.
Leave dogs at home; they mess up the trails. Hannegan Pass Road is a dog-friendly area and does not require a Sno-Park permit. For a list of other areas to snowshoe, check the Nooksack Nordic Ski Club website or with the U.S. Forest Service.
Always respect others. Trails in the Mount Baker National Forest are multi-use and for everyone's enjoyment.
WHERE TO GO
Thinking about snowshoeing or skiing? Check out Salmon Ridge. The Nooksack Nordic Ski Club members have maintained the Salmon Ridge trail system for the public since 1992. This fall, both the Mount Baker Club and Nooksack Nordic Ski Club are busy clearing the trails to get them ready for snow. You can help by joining a work party. It is great exercise and fun camaraderie.
Be sure to buy your Sno-Park permit to park at the Salmon Ridge Sno-Park (near mile marker 46). Parking tickets are very expensive. Day passes ($20) and seasonal ($40) permits can be purchased online at parks.wa.gov. These fees pay for clearing the Sno-Park, sanitary facilities, maps and trail signs and some grooming. The trails (2,000-foot elevation) will be groomed twice weekly this year when there is enough snow.
In 2009 the Nooksack Nordic Ski Club had Bud Hardwick flag a separate snowshoe trail system adjacent to the ski trails. These beautiful trails wander through the woods, along the river and up to a recreational bridge over the Bagley Creek canyon. If you haven't tried this trail, I encourage you to do so. Beware, there are some steep sections. And last year the Mount Baker Club enhanced the snowshoe trails off White Salmon Road (3100 feet). To learn more about the available snowshoe and cross-country ski trails up at Mount Baker, come to the event sponsored by Backcountry Essentials on Dec. 12 at 7:30 p.m., where a member from both clubs will talk about these trails, backcountry trails, winter recreation safety and trail maneuvering and etiquette. There will also be a slide show and handouts.
So get out there and enjoy the snow, but come home safe!
Sharon Robinson Holmes has been a member of the Mount Baker Club for 14 years and currently volunteers as the membership chair. She has been a member of the Nooksack Nordic Ski Club for 16 years and currently volunteers as the club hostess and publicity chair. For more information on both clubs, go to mountbakerclub.org or nooksacknordicskiclub.org.
Window On My World is an occasional essay in Monday's Bellingham Herald that allows Whatcom County residents to share their passion for what they do, an idea or cause they support. Send your Window On My World, which must be no more than 700 words, to email@example.com.